There’s always next year for football teams at Central Valley and East Valley high schools, both of which lost in the first round of the state playoffs.
At University and West Valley, which between them won just three games, there’s also next year.
The Bears bring back practically every player from a 6-3 team that reached post-season.
East Valley will build around an experienced line.
Next year, both will try to duplicate past successes.
“It’s exciting,” said CV coach Rick Giampietri. “We have good players back with tournament experience. The key will be what they do to improve.”
Things didn’t go as well at WV and U-Hi, 2-7 and 1-8, respectively. Coaches at both schools hope things will go better next year.
“We have good returning sophomores and juniors,” said Titan coach Mike Ganey. “Hopefully we’ll limit as many two-way players as possible.”
Central Valley graduates only a handful of seniors and brings back 18 players who saw duty this year.
“(Quarterback) Chad Adamson improved by leaps and bounds,” said Giampietri. “And you wouldn’t believe how well (lineman) Brandon Bouge played on both sides of the ball.”
Backs Nate McFarlane, Tyree Clowe and Garrett Graham were injured at various times during the season. When healthy they were exceptional ground gainers.
Virtually the entire offensive and defensive lines will be back, including three whom Giampietri singled out, Jason Robisch, Ben Albers and tight end Marc Hinckley.
The Bears will be a pre-season favorite in the GSL next year, although Giampietri warned that football teams on the East Side of the mountains were young and will be very tough.
“Our big guys have to get smaller and the small guys a little bigger,” he said. “The big thing for them is to improve again.”
East Valley must replace virtually all its total offense statistics leaders.
Senior quarterback Brian Lamarche threw for 1,346 yards. Senior receiver Trevor Eastman caught 57 passes for 919 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior rushers Tristan Beeman and Rob Gillespie gained a combined 1,148 yards.
The good news is that linemen Ryan Stengle, T.J. Horgan and Charles Van Duyne blocked for those guys, just as they blocked for a different cast the previous year.
Plunking in new faces, except perhaps at quarterback, won’t necessarily be daunting.
Rusty Ruchert showed promise on offense and was a tough linebacker on defense.
A dozen regulars graduate. A dozen others return from a team which outgained Prosser 307 yards to 232 despite the playoff loss.
The other two Valley schools didn’t have good luck this year. Despite the best individual player in league, Ty Gregorak, the Eagles had only a two-week window of success.
Gregorak was the team’s leader in tackles for the fourth straight year and at quarterback this year rushed for 569 yards in league and passed for 364 more as the league’s third best in total offense.
Returning starters are second-leading rusher and scoring leader Chris Hilsabeck, lineman Matt Hietala, linebacker-tight end Ryan Spivey and wide receiver Eric Deno, who all are sophomores.
The Eagles will replace its graduates mainly with next year’s junior class as well. Numbers will remain a problem.
Increased numbers, said Ganey, is a cause for optimism at U-Hi where the football team has won eight games in four years.
If everyone comes back, there will be close to 50 seniors and juniors on roster.
“I think we’ll have more depth,” said Ganey, who rattled off nearly 30 names whom he expects will play.
Included will be linemen starters Ryan Metcalf, Ty Vinson, T.R. McCullough, Kendrick Chane and Ben Thurman.
Two receivers, Jake Roberts and Chris McMurtrey also return.
Chris Short will move in fulltime at quarterback from defensive back. Nick Mattioda will become the featured running back.
“He will give us more quickness and an extra spark,” said Ganey.
Although excited about the future, Ganey didn’t forget the contributions of his departing players.
“I want to give credit to the seniors who went both ways,” he said.
Among them were Zaq Flanary, Justin Chissus, Jason Bright, Jason Berger and Cody Hirschi.
“Losing an important player like Jason (who missed the final two games with a concussion), took its toll,” said Ganey. “Cody is the most unselfish and dedicated kid on the team. He played any position we asked.”
Included were wide receiver, running back and ultimately tight end on offense. Defensively he moved from safety to linebacker.